A new credit union has opened in Huddersfield helping savers steer clear of back street lenders and loan sharks.

The Huddersfield branch of the Calderdale Credit Union opened on August 30.

It joined the Borough and Parish Credit Union and South Yorkshire Credit Union in providing an alternative way of saving and borrowing money for local people.

Kirklees Council is keen to promote credit unions to keep low income families out of the grips of loan sharks and prevent people from falling into a spiral of debt.

Local people can become members of one or all of the credit unions and take advantage of innovative accounts that help them manage their money, and pay their rent and other bills.

Credit unions encourage their members to make small savings over a period of weeks before opening up the opportunity of borrowing money at a competitive rate. The money saved is completely secure and protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Unlike a bank, credit unions are owned by their members. They are secure and may pay a dividend on savings.

Council Cabinet member Clr Graham Turner, who opened an account on the first day, said: “Credit unions are a great alternative to one of the big banks.

Kirklees Labour member, Clr Graham Turner

“I have opened an account and would encourage others to do the same and help support these very worthwhile organisations.

“When you need to borrow money, for unexpected costs or high value items like appliances, credit unions offer members a great alternative to banks, high cost pay day loans, loan sharks and expensive hire purchase type arrangements.

“Between them our local credit unions have innovative accounts that help people manage their money, pay rent and other bills, and can sometimes include insurance for savings and loans.

“Credit unions are all different and, of course, you can join more than one and have all of the benefits on offer.

“Credit Unions are not just for people on low income; to be able to help the maximum number of local people they need a good mix of both savers and borrowers.”

Frances Burns, chairman of Calderdale Credit Union, said: “Calderdale Credit Union is very pleased to open a branch in Huddersfield which will serve all of the Kirklees area.

“We offer loans to suit the circumstances including to those new members who cannot afford to save before they borrow. In addition, If you are looking to make a much larger financial purchase we may be able to help with that too. Come and talk to us.”